things I’ll miss in College Station
As I announced earlier, we are moving. It’s a very happy move for me and the family, but there are a few things about this place I’ll miss. I already miss having a best friend, smart colleague, and fellow mom-to-two in the office right next door to mine, but she left for greener pastures a few weeks ago, so I guess she doesn’t technically count as something I’ll miss in College Station.
This list is more about those things that other people who move to College Station might be interested in checking out — from the perspective of a tenure-track mom of two young children who has strong opinions about the things she likes–YMMV.
We love our neighborhood. The homes are modest by College Station (gown) standards, there is a community pool, and our favorite: there is a nice park just around the block from us. The park is great because in addition to having a half court, a volleyball sandpit, and a playground for kids, it has a 1/3 mile loop nature walk where we’ve seen turtles, deer, lizards, rabbits, snakes, and many different kinds of birds. Our neighbors are pretty great, too (minus this one guy who doesn’t take proper care of his dog). We’ll miss walks in the park (especially on the maze of trails among the trees) and at the nearby duck pond, where we saw a team of ducklings grow up this spring.
One other benefit of our neighborhood is the public school for which we are zoned. It just so happens that our elementary school offers a dual-language (Spanish) program. Our daughter has learned quite a bit just in Kinder and we’re sad she won’t have the same opportunity when we move.
In my opinion (shaped by decades of living in CA’s Central Valley and then a decade in LA), College Station has very few good dining options. There are lots of chain restaurants, the fancy places just can’t quite get it right, and there’s no good sushi or Thai food here. Contrary to my expectations, Mexican food here has been pretty bad, with the exception of El Vale, a small family-owned restaurant in Bryan (College Station’s sister city). The Indian place (Taz) is pretty good too (lunch buffet is great, takeout dinner is OK).
Surprisingly, there is very good Korean food here. My favorite restaurant in town is Ohana Korean Grill, where you can watch K-Pop on the flat screens while you eat some of the tastiest Korean food you can get anywhere (this from someone who has had a lot of food in LA’s K-Town). We often order takeout from Ohana too. There’s also a decent Korean grocer in Bryan; his wife makes the best kimchi around, but they don’t sell it in small batches. The small strip mall joint, Choi’s restaurant, is good for lunch.
We also love to eat at Grub Burger Bar; anyone who says there’s a better burger somewhere else is plain wrong. The place that comes closest is The Proudest Monkey (in downtown Bryan), but I might be biased since a friend of mine is the owner and once when eating there, I was given a dessert on the house.* I highly recommend the chorizo burger with a fried egg.
For all my four-eyed friends: there’s a great optometrist in town (Urban Optics), with a fantastic selection of eyeglasses. People often ask me where I went to purchase my glasses because they don’t believe that I bought them here.
I’ve gotten the best haircut of my life just a week ago here in College Station and am sad that my hair stylist isn’t moving with me to Western Mass. Her name is Summer and she works at Celebrity Spa and Salon, which is kinda fancy for College Station, but not in an uppity (or expensive) way.
Perhaps my best experience at TAMU has been with the NSF ADVANCE Center for Women Faculty. I was fortunate to be selected as an NSF ADVANCE Scholar, which is a great program for early-career scientists (social scientists included). The ADVANCE center also coordinated a couple of POWER writing workshops from which I learned a lot. Following on one of these workshops, some friends and I started a writing club, which the ADVANCE Center also supported. Thanks in no small part to my writing club, last summer I got seven papers under review. In addition to NSF ADVANCE facilitating my professional goals, it was a great place to meet other hardworking and interesting academics who just so happened to be women of color facing some similar challenges and offering helpful strategies on how to navigate.
There’s also a new center on campus that I wish I was sticking around to watch grow and develop: the USAID HESN-sponsored Conflict and Development Center, aka ConDev. There is a hardworking and friendly group of folks leading ConDev and they are already engaging and starting some meaningful conversations about development in post-conflict societies.
Since we’re packing up and moving in a week’s time, the next haba na haba post will likely be from the road or from MA. Ta-ta, Texas!
* I don’t mind when bloggers promote a place where they got something once for free — but I mind when they don’t tell their readers. In fuller disclosure: my getting a free dessert had nothing to do with knowing the owner. It was just a friendly gesture from the other owner (whom I don’t know) when I inquired about sweets since there weren’t any on the menu in the first few weeks they were open.